Introduction: The need for discipleship.
Discipleship is the only method of retaining fruit.
- The parable of the sower is a parable about discipleship. Jesus’ teaching was on the timeline of an interested seeker, an excited believer, a distracted disciple, and a faithful multiplier.
- Discipleship develops “fruit that remains” (John 15). Without discipleship, we will never achieve world evangelization.
Discipleship is the only method of multiplication.
- Programs produce converts and attenders; Networks produce disciples. A network is the passing down of spiritual values from fruitful disciples to baby believers, turning them into strong disciples who disciple others.
- We must build “discipleship networks,” relationships that bear lasting, multiplying fruit.
Four levels of discipleship:
- Jesus said that the “sower sows the Word.” Immediately, the devil is present to steal the seed that is lying on the hard soil. The “soil” is the heart in all four cases.
- The seed must be pushed down deep into the heart: “With the heart man believes” (Rom. 10). ALL DISCIPLESHIP STARTS WITH A REVELATION OF THE WORD IN YOUR SPIRIT.
- “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 6: 6). Church attenders who barely “hear” preaching but have no revelation of it in their spirit will never be discipled. That is why small groups and individual discipleship is necessary: to be sure that an interested seeker has really received a revelation.
- “Knowledge” has to do with salvation, healing, blessing, family, the will of God, spiritual warfare, etc. A new believer must learn verses that apply to each of these subjects and have a revelation of them or they will never develop fruit. IT IS THE WORD THAT BEARS FRUIT.
- The second level of discipleship is those who hear the Word, receive it, but only “endure for a while.” If the Word is never acted upon, it is unfruitful. A new believer must obey the Word: tithing, dating only Christians, forgiving others, loving their wife, etc. If there is no obedience, the seed of the Word is dead.
2. Once a believer makes a decision to act upon and do something in obedience to the Word, Satan makes every effort to stop them immediately with “tribulations and persecutions.
a) A “tribulum” was a piece of equipment rolled over wheat to separate the stalk from the grain. It was very heavy and applied immense pressure. “Pressure” is Satan’s method of opposition: financial pressure, health problems, family pressure.
b) “Persecution” means to be “hunted.” Satan used this method to discourage disciples where they became weary of being hunted continually by people like Saul of Tarsus!
3. We must walk with new believers through the certain tribulations and persecutions they will face as soon as they become serious about obeying the Word.
1. The third area of discipleship Jesus spoke about is the deepening of our relationship to God. As years go by (after 5 years it seems like) believers who have become disciples can become “distracted disciples.”
Three things will do this (cool down):
- cares—Worries of the world, even about little small things to do with houses, cars, computers, fashion, and money.
- wealth—The “deceitfulness of riches,” the ease with which Satan can remove money from you when you have chased it.
- distractions – The “desires for other things” creep in. Hobbies, habits, “rings, things and blings” can all distract us from God.
2. A true fruitful disciple never loses his focus on drawing closer and closer to God (like Enoch). If anything has stepped into our focus and is pulling us away from God we need to ruthlessly remove it as a weapon of the enemy to make us unfruitful.
1. Jesus said that some would bear “30-fold, 60-fold, and 100-fold” fruit. This, of course, has to do with the measure of faith that God has given to each believer.
2. There are three ways to bear fruit in the New Testament:
a) harvest (Jn. 4:36): “Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life”.
b) helps (Titus 3: 14): “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent needs, and not be unfruitful.”
c) generosity (Phil. 4: 17): “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit”